All posts by stellar.ice

NCG Review: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix (Switch)

Hatsune Miku is back on the Switch for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Mega Mix.  Loaded with tons of songs from your favorite virtual pop idol, the real question is whether the Switch is a good home for the Vocaloids.

Story

Since this is a rhythm game, no story included! This is a fantastic thing since I feel that the last installment (Project Diva X) fell flat with their attempt at a story.   You can turn on the game and go straight to game play.

Gameplay

Project Diva is a rhythm game featuring top virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku and friends.  To play the game, you need to press buttons in sync with the melody icons on the screen.  The melody icons will follow the vocals or background music of the song.   The melody icons are represented as the buttons on the Switch controller (A, B, Y, X) and incorporate “bumper” buttons (L, R buttons or the joystick swiped in the noted direction).  Depending on the level of game play you select (Easy, Normal, Hard, Extreme, Extra Extreme) the icons will appear to match that difficulty. With higher difficulties, you’ll need to hit more icons with a variation of button presses.  This is the “Arcade Mode” of the game.

As you play, the song is graded by the amount of notes you hit and can range from Cool, Good, Safe, Bad, Wrong.  Your score is based on how your perform the song.  You can pass the song with an average score (meaning you can miss notes or have bad/safe hits) and retry the song as many times as you’d like to aim for perfection or at least an “Excellent” pass (hitting a majority of Cool/Good notes). Missing too many notes or getting a majority of them wrong causes you to fail the song.

Completion of songs will allot you an X amount of Vocaloid Points (VP) which can be used to buy accessories and modules for your Vocaloids.

If you’re looking to add a challenge to the game, you can use modifiers which will speed up, hide, or limit the number of melody icons on the screen.  This is actually a minimal amount compared to previous titles which, in addition to challenge modifiers, included helping modifiers (which gave you a game play advantage for less amount of points earned).

Aside from the Arcade Mode, the game includes a Mix Mode where you use the joy con motion controllers and trigger buttons to hit notes. You’ll need to move your joy cons Left/Right and press the trigger to hit the note as it comes toward you.  This gets you up and moving.  The higher the difficulty, the more variety of notes you’ll have.  I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t really enjoy the Mix Mode very much. I just can’t get in tune with the motion controls. This is an issue I have, not because of the game, but with joy cons and joy con calibration.  If you can get the joy cons aligned just right, the new mode isn’t that bad.

Features

Customization

What really made this game a huge win for me, and what might help veterans of the series, was the ability to switch the melody icons to PlayStation icons.  Miku has, so far, only been on Sony products (PlayStation, PSP, Vita).  I am used to the X, Triangle, Square, and Circle icons that my brain can’t comprehend which console I’m on; I get X wrong every time.  Not having the option in the last Nintendo console installment (Project Mirai) was the main reason I didn’t spend 100+ hours on it.

If PlayStation icons aren’t your thing, there are other options that can help you feel more comfortable with the melody icons such as arrows, Switch buttons, and other options.   There’s a variety of ways to ensure the game play feels comfortable from button timing, sound, and a few other options to try out.

Costumes, or in Project Diva terms, “Modules”, are a staple of the game.  It’s fun to put the singers in wacky costumes with ridiculous accessories or a module that matches the music video of the song you’re playing.  Aside from the classic modules and accessories we’ve seen in all previous titles, you can now modify the hairstyles of the module.  You won’t be committed to the entire module! This gives you more opportunity to mix and customize the Vocaloids.

In addition to more module options, you can create your own t-shirt for your Vocaloids! Miku can now become YOUR biggest fan!  You can use a stylus or utilize the touch screen options to create your own designs for the Vocaloids to wear during their “performance”. However, this feature has a lot of bugs in it, particularly a lot of lag.  Changing the background of a t-shirt stopped the game for a few seconds which caused my inspiration to dwindle and my t-shirt to be made at a later date…

Playlist

If you don’t really want to play the game, but would prefer to just put on a few of your favorite jams and videos, you can create your own playlist.  Pick your favorite songs from the library and let them run in the background.  You can create multiple playlists based on your mood, favorite Vocaloid, or whatever floats your boat.

As awesome as it is to create your own playlist, this is an extremely clunky feature for a few reasons.  You can’t skip to the next song if you aren’t feeling it’s vibes.  While the song is playing you can only pause it, or restart it.  You can play your playlist randomly, but you can’t select which song to start with.  Overall, the playlist is good if you’re not feeling particular and don’t mind letting it just run in the background.

If you’re not feeling the playlist, you can also just play individual music videos in the game menu.

Song list

The most exciting part of the game is its massive playlist! The base game will give you 101 songs to play, but the title will include up to 141 from additional DLC song packs.  There will be 6 DLC packs with 6 songs in each.  The song options are just incredible! However… If you are not new to the Project Diva series, the 100+ song options are pretty much all the songs you have played multiple times before.  There are only 10 new songs to learn, master, and love.

Practice

Veterans to the game have probably spent countless hours trying to master songs.  From my experience, there has always been that one technical zone I could never hit and I just didn’t want to go back and play the entire song over again just to master it.  In the song menu you have a chance to Practice a song.  You can run through the entire song, or find the place in the song that trips you up to practice.  This is an awesome feature because my patience is limited and I can only play a song so many times before I get tired of it.

Graphics

Project Diva Mega Mix is like a port of Future Tone, which a port of the Arcade version.  The Vocaloids look beautiful and clear, which is a major upgrade from the PS4 versions. Overall, the game looks fantastic.

Verdict

Pros

There are a lot of new features to the game that I wish I had before.  The ability to practice (without having to be a super fan with hacked this- and-that on the PC) technical zones that trip you up is a major plus and something I with I had in the F series.  Since this is on the Switch, the ability to change my melody icons to PlayStation icons is a huge relief; I can actually play the game! I am certain this a feature veterans will appreciate. As I mentioned before, Project Mirai just ended up collecting dust because I hated the icons.

Although all of the songs are from previous titles with minimal new additions and the total exclusion of Gumi, it’s nice to have all of my favorite titles in one game without having to switch between consoles.

Cons

As much praise as I give the game for adding PlayStation melody icons, I just can’t, for the life of me, get comfortable with the controller.  Since PlayStation button layout has the press buttons parallel, it was difficult to get my hands adjusted to the non-parallel layout of the Switch.  My hands hurt and hitting the bumpers kind of sucks on my left hand.  I felt the most comfortable playing with the joy cons detached from the console, but I feel like this ruins the portability aspect of the title.  Even mix mode, for me, was difficult to enjoy because the joy cons and calibration of controllers are just, overall, awful on the Switch.  However, this isn’t an issue I have with just the Mega Mix title, it’s with a majority of my games overall.

A lot of the new features are very clunky.  The playlist option is clunky and the customization options are slow.  They definitely needed just a little bit of extra work to make them running and functional.  These features just didn’t feel like they were very thought out.

There is no story, which is a plus, but the reward factor of the game isn’t satisfying.  When you start the game, you already have a majority of the songs unlocked and ready to play.  I felt no reward for beating a song and no desire to grind to get all the collectibles.  Sure, you get to skip out on songs that you wouldn’t enjoy normally, but what kept me so hooked to previous titles was going through and unlocking all of the songs and earning enough points to buy every single Module, accessory, and gift option. It’s pretty easy for me to put Mega Mix down.

I’d rank the game as a 7 out of 10.  There are plenty of new features, but none of these have been perfected. It’s awesome to have all the songs in one portable platform, but Switch felt very uncomfortable and difficult to adjust to.  Not only that, but I just didn’t feel rewarded with my overall game play.  I can beat a song and try to get a better score next time, but my effort doesn’t unlock a thing.  This may because I’ve played this game so much on Sony products but I feel this might be something veterans to the title can relate to.  Newer players may not have this struggle.  There are tons of perks if you’re new to the series and will likely be an incredibly enjoyable experience for first timers.

Have you picked up this title? What did you think? Is this your first title from the Project Diva series?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

NCG Review – Persona 5 Royal

I remember the teaser trailer: the same cast, but a new female character? Would the game get a release with a female protagonist like Person 3? Would Yuusuke finally be my partner in romance?!  Most of us were likely pretty disappointed to find out that the re-release of Persona 5 would not include a female protagonist, but instead, a new character for your team.

persona-5-royal-kasumi-yoshizawa-all-out-attack-finish

I can see why a female protagonist would not work out for a variety of reasons; the entire story would need to be overhauled and that may have been more work than the team wanted. For example, the Kamoshida arc just would not work with a female protagonist because his character would address the female protagonist differently. Kamoshida would need a complete overhaul and the initial bonds between characters would not make sense. However, that is purely my personal opinion.

The real question is, would it be worth it to pick up the game just to have a new character on your team?

Story

For those new to the series, Persona 5 follows the Protagonist and his group of friends as they infiltrate Palaces (places of an individuals distorted desire) and force corrupted people to have a change of heart – confess to their bad deeds. The player maintains a regular life, going to school, taking exams, working part time, etc. (basically, however you want to play) while infiltrating palaces after school.

persona-5-12

Persona 5 Royal switches up the story quite a bit. The new character appears in the beginning and her role in the game starts to reveal itself. For the most part, the core of the story is the initial release of P5, but there is a variety of additions on the side. If you played the game before, you will be able to identify where the story goes off track to fit the characters in. If you are new to the game, you would not be able to tell the difference.

Fortunately, the female character is not the only new character in the game. We also have a chance to meet Jose, the white haired robot-boy who resides in the Thieves Den and Mementos as well as some other faces.

Gameplay

I will be honest; I was not interested in picking up Persona 5 Royal because I was not up for playing the game again. My first play through took me 1 year and 100+ hours before beating the game, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fit this into my schedule (I really do wish I had that sort of time to dedicate to games!) However, the new features added to the game are worth another play through.

P5 Royal has eliminated many things that I found downright annoying in the first game. For starters, when a Shadow is defeated, I can skip the entire results screen animation. My original play through, I mashed X in hope that the game would just go… a little bit faster… Although commentary from Morgana can really get on my nerves, it is now helpful when it comes to bargaining with Shadows. I usually went in not knowing which way to respond. Morgana gives you a hint to the temperament of a Shadow so you can better guess how to get them to join your team – without resorting to one of the various walkthroughs. I also hated the limitations Morgana had on your actions at night. Rather than only being able to sleep after visiting a Palace/Mementos, the protagonist has options that expand the character skills in the cafe before going to sleep. This is helpful when it comes to building skills since visiting a Palace/Mementos is basically your activity for the entire day in the original version.

xPersona-5-Royal-Game-Show-Answers.jpg,qx57356.pagespeed.ic.DMwnFsoo_a

Battles have been modified to encourage you to use the baton pass. I never used this feature in my first play through because the button to trade off was not so easily accessible. And even if it was, I did not have much motivation to use it. And bullet usage! I never used my gun because ammo ran out too fast and it was basically, pointless.  Bullets re-load and you’re no longer wandering through the palaces ammo-less.

The game has also added special Shadows that act like bombs. Defeat them and they explode, damaging the surrounding Shadows. The battles are strategic, but also too easy.

The Velvet room also has an additional challenge mode. The protagonist and team battle personas for prizes, aiming to get a high score for more in game item swag.

Persona-5-Royal-Challenge-Battle-1152x648

The Thieves Den is a side location to kill time. You can view videos and other achievements. This part is not that exciting, but the part I do like is playing Tycoon. Tycoon is a card game you can play with the other characters. So far, I have spent an absurd amount of time trying to master the game.  The more you progress, more things get added to the Thieves Den.

tycoon

The new character, Jose, mentioned above also adds more to Mementos. Reflecting back, there were many things I did not care for in the original release. The additions bring us back and add a little more to the tedium. I did not enjoy going through Mementos. The collector in me needed to unlock all sections of the map for hidden treasures, grind for cash, and level up, but the player side just wanted the story to progress. Jose brings more activities to Mementos by asking the protagonist to collect flowers. X amount of flowers will buy special items and each of the items are definitely worthwhile! SP replenishers help when you want to grind through a castle.

Persona-5-Royal-Jose-1152x648

More characters means more social links means more side stories and more persona types to unlock which means there are new skills you can use throughout the game! P5: Royal gives you so much new content that while you are comfortable with the interface and know what you need to do, the game still feels “new”.

Persona 5 Royal_20200306154638

Audio/Graphics

I cannot say I have noticed much difference in audio in and graphics. The game, overall, maintains its attractive style, snazzy UI, and P5 soundtrack.

Verdict

Pros: There is so much new content to the game; it is worth going back, going down old routes, but also visiting new ones. P5 Royal removes all of the mechanics that felt tedious and annoying from the original release, making a second play through (or even a first play through) more enjoyable.

Cons: Some of the new additions to the game do not really do anything. I like the addition of Jose and the Thieves Den, but his role does not really do much. It’s the same game, but with more things added to it.  If you’re not a huge fan, a second play through may not be desired.

I would rate this a 9/10. At its core, Persona 5 is a fantastic game. It was still fun to play, all of the things I hated, mechanic wise, were removed, and you get another chance to play through the game and make different decisions!

Score

Have you picked up P5 Royal? Do you plan to? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

NCG Reviews: Corpse Party Blood Drive Nintendo Switch

Corpse Party is easily one of my favorite horror games with its jump scares, ambient background noises, and chilling story.  The story follows a group of students who are spirited away into another dimension and trapped in a haunted school filled with hate, agony, despair, and murder. Corpse Party plays as a survival horror action game mixed in with visual novel elements.  You follow multiple characters as they try to survive the horrors of Heavenly Host Elementary School.  There are four installments to the Corpse Party series, Corpse Party: Blood Covered (PSP), Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PSP), and Corpse Party: Blood Drive (PS Vita/Nintendo Switch), and a last installment, Corpse Party: Dead Patient (PC) which released in October 2019.  Having already played all of the previous titles, I was stoked to jump back into Corpse Party: Blood Drive on my Nintendo Switch.

Corpse Party_Blood Drive - Key Art

Story 

Blood Drive takes place a few weeks after the events of Book of Shadows where Ayumi and her friends believe they have destroyed Heavenly Host and Sachiko’s curse.  They discover that not only does Heavenly Host still exist, the curse of Heavenly Host is spreading into the real world and has become more malevolent than ever.  Tricked into thinking the Book of Shadows can revive her dead friends, Ayumi goes back into Heavenly Host to retrieve the Book of Shadows and, once again, try to destroy Heavenly Host for good.

I highly recommend playing Blood Covered and Book of Shadows before playing Blood Drive, or, at least reading the story/watching a walk through beforehand.  The events in Blood Drive constantly refer to the events of Book of Shadows so you might feel a bit lost without the prior knowledge.  If you opt to skip out on the former games, Corpse Party: Blood Drive does an OK good job or reiterating the previous story to you, but it might be difficult to follow on its own.

Corpse Party_Blood Drive - Switch 01

Game Play

If you’re new to the series, game play is very straightforward but does not hold your hand past earlier tutorials.  You have no map. You pretty much wander around the school until you hit the right point for a cut scene or obtain the correct item. It is important to read the dialogue because that is the only way you’ll find clues to the next location or object you will need to obtain.  Picking up from visual novel aspects, your interactions also determine the fate of your character.  Talking to the wrong spirit or picking the wrong action can lead you to a bad ending. Choices must also be made on the fly as you only have seconds to decide your next course of action. Failure to make a decision in time will result in the automatic selection of the bad choice and ultimately the “Wrong End”.

Heavenly Host itself is also a complete danger zone.  If you’ve played the previous titles and missed out on Blood Drive, the school no longer simply poses obstructions and ghosts to stop you from proceeding.  You can’t run haphazardly through the hallways because there are shards of glass, piled of debris, holes, and living flesh organisms that inflict damage to your character. Running is also limited. Running too much can cause your character to run out of breath and stop completely to catch it –which is terrible when you’re running away from something. My major upset about the game is not only the missing map feature, but the inability to control the camera.  There are many scenarios where I’ll lose my character behind a wall or struggle to see the obstacles in my way.

Corpse Party_Blood Drive - Switch 02

The game doesn’t hold back on the horror either.  Frequently, you’ll find yourself afraid to go into classrooms or walk down certain corridors because of a lurking entity.  If you happen to run into a bad situation, getting a “Wrong End” will never be a pleasant experience.  The writers did a wonderful job describing and depicting the torture and gore your character would suffer at the hands of an unforgiving ghost. Not only that, but Corpse Party offered a lot of jump scares. Yes, they were cheesy, but when the face appears in the hole you are looking through you can’t help feeling a shudder.

Blood Drive isn’t played as a continuous story, either.  You go through Chapters, each chapter containing one part of the story.  You can re-visit the chapters through the home screen.  This is a nice touch, in case you want to go back and find anything you may have missed.

Graphics

Blood Drive on the Nintendo Switch looks fantastic! The animation looks great on the Switch and the character models are much cleaner.  With cleaner graphics, it makes the obstacles of Heavenly Host a bit more difficult to avoid because they don’t stick out as much as they did in the Vita version. Otherwise, the port to the Switch is absolutely stunning!

Corpse Party_Blood Drive - Switch 04

Audio

One thing I never really liked about Corpse Party games is the audio.  At times you can sense the director was trying to inject a sense of distance between characters based on sounds (i.e. voices coming from the distance), but this doesn’t work very well with the way the graphics are presented.  There’s a contradiction between the characters on screen and where the voices come from.  Some instances, the characters will be standing next to each other on screen, but their voices will indicate one is nearby and the other is across the room. It’s a weird quirk in the series, but I think it’s something that would have worked best if it was an audio-only telling.

Corpse Party_Blood Drive - Switch 03

Verdict

Pros: The port over the Nintendo Switch is absolutely stunning! If you haven’t played the title on the Vita, it is absolutely worth picking up on the Switch.

Blood Drive isn’t my favorite entry in the series (you can read my original review to get my thoughts) but it does come with a lot of jump scares and horrific scenarios.

Cons: There was no fix to the audio and camera angles can irk your nerves while playing.

I would give the Switch version an 8 out of 10.

Score

Have you played any Corpse Party titles? Is this something you would pick up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

NCG Review – AI: Somnium Files (Switch, PC, PS4)

Basic Info

“The mind never lies…

In a near-future Tokyo, Special Agent Kaname Date is on the case of a mysterious serial killer. Date must investigate crime scenes as well as dreams on the hunt for clues. From the mind of Kotaro Uchikoshi (Zero Escape series director), with character design by the Yusuke Kozaki (NO MORE HEROES, Fire Emblem series), a thrilling neo-noir detective adventure is about to unfold.”

TITLE AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES
RELEASE DATE Digital (PSN, NSW, STEAM): September 17, 2019
Retail (PS4, NSW) : September 24, 2019
PLATFORM(S) PlayStation®4, Nintendo Switch™, Steam® (PC)
PRICE Standard Edition: $59.99/ €59.99

Special Agent Edition: $89.99/ €99.99

PLAYER(S) 1 player
GENRE Adventure
WEBSITE http://spike-chunsoft.com/ai | Steam Store
RATING ESRB: M/ PEGI: 18 / USK: 16
LANGUAGE(S) English/Traditional Chinese text, Japanese audio/English audio
DEVELOPER Spike Chunsoft, Co., Ltd.
COPYRIGHT ©Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Licensed to and Published by Spike Chunsoft, Inc.

Story

A woman’s body is found with multiple stab wounds and missing her left eye.  She is bound to a merry-go-round in a long abandon amusement park. When the main character, Kaname Date, arrives he immediately recognizes the woman. Shoko Nadami, the ex-wife of his close friend and mother to the young girl he is housing.

You mission? Solve the mysteries around this murder. Can you find the truth behind the incident and capture the killer?90

Throughout the game you play as Kaname Date.  With no memories from 6 years prior and missing his left eye, Kaname Date encounters Boss.  Boss helps Date get hired at the Metro Police as a detective in the Advanced Brain Investigation Squad (ABIS) and replaces his left eye with Aiba, an artificial intelligence directly wired to his brain.  Aiba, who has been with Date for 6 years, assists him with his work as a detective by providing him with instant information, x ray vision, the ability to see long distances, and predict actions that will get Date out of some sticky situations.   Aiba also acts as Date’s avatar when he needs to “Psync” into another person’s consciousness within Somnium (the subconscious world of another character).  Along with Aiba, Date investigates Shoko’s murder to find her killer.c00

There are many twists and turns as you meet new characters and learn their connection and/or involvement in the murder. One story line, based on your choices in Somnium, will play out in a completely different way compared to another route.  Some characters will live in one line, and some characters will die in another.  Can you make it to the “true” ending?

Gameplay

AI: Somnium Files is a mash-up of visual novel and puzzle game.  The basic story line carries core elements of a visual novel, however, rather than reading text on the screen you’re given an opportunity to interact with the room and characters around you. This is all presented to you in a limited way (your character cannot get up and walk around the room or explore new areas on your own), but you have the ability to look around you and take in the environment.01

In additional to visual-novel elements, you’ll be presented with the ability to “psync”.  The concept of this is diving into the sub consciousness of another character and unlock a repressed/hidden memory, which you will need to do in order to further your investigation.  During the Psync, you need to solve puzzles to find the secret hidden in a characters sub consciousness.  In order to solve the puzzle you interact, through Aiba, with the items in an area.  Unlike the limited presentation of the “investigation” aspect of the story, you can control Aiba and move her through the Somnium space.  How you interact with the objects is the key to unlocking the “mental blocks” put in place.  A Psync can only last for 6 minutes (game time), but each interaction you make with an object depletes the remaining time you have.  There are TIMIEs you can use which will decrease the amount of time spent on an action but there are also Negative TIMIEs which will increase the time for your next interaction.  Interactions with the objects are not obvious and you’ll end up burning through time to find the correct interaction.  Fortunately, you get 3 retries but sometimes finding the right order of interaction will take you more than 3 attempts.  There are some actions you perform that will have a Negative TIMIE in order to progress so on your next action so you need to figure out how to maximize the use of your time.10

How you complete the puzzles in Somnium determines the path of story.  Based on which “Mental locks” you open, the story will proceed down that path. Not every Somnium puzzle has separate paths, but ones that have two will lead you down a different story line.AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES_20190417131431

What really sets this game apart from similar titles is that you do not have to repeat the entire story to take a different path in the game.  Instead, you can go back to a “psync” and replay it. This increases the replay value and doesn’t make the game feel so tedious, which tends to happen with visual novels if you don’t know where and when to save.

Visuals/Graphics and Audio

Most visual novels can be very bland and fall flat when it comes to animation and graphics, however, the all dialogue of the game is voiced over which makes the story that much more engaging.  Characters are also animated when talking, moving their arms, making facial expressions and simple gestures, and this is a nice touch since it brings the characters to life.13

Verdict

Pros: Unlike most visual novels, the game doesn’t fall flat.  The story line itself is enough to keep the player intrigued and curious to know all the secrets of the game. Although frustrating at times, the puzzles are challenging.  You’re given hints on what you need to do, but finding the next action isn’t obvious. Although graphics aren’t “triple A” status, the animation and voice overs give enough to the player to bring the story to life.  While in Somnium, when performing an action, rather than the game telling you you’ve made a bad choice, the dialogue between the characters becomes ridiculous, either with Date and Aiba mocking each other or making jokes at Date’s expense.

Cons: The only real qualm I had with the game is the lack of opportunity to save before jumping into a Somnium puzzle.  Save points in games are incredibly important to me because I have to jump on and off of a game (hours of sit through game play? Not in my adult life!).  Sometimes a “Psync” will just start (it will be obvious when it does but almost unexpected) and I do not have the chance to save the game before jumping in.  You cannot save before or during a “psync” so I’m either stuck putting my game in “Sleep Mode” until I can play again, or hope that AutoSave will take me back where I left off.

I would rate this game an 8 out of 10.Score

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and even though the Somnium puzzles took me a few attempts, I found myself going back to unlock different story lines without much hesitation or feeling “too drained” to keep going.

Have you heard of this game? Will you pick up this title? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

NCG Review: The Caligula Effect: Overdose (Switch, PS4, PC)

Wanting to forget about the pain of our daily lives is something a majority of us are familiar with, after all, we spend countless hours glued to our phones mindlessly browsing through social media or playing games.  But what would happen if a sentient being created a world for us to live in and be forever happy? Would you want to live in this paradise?21.png

The Caligula Effect: Overdose takes us into the world of Mobius where the lines of fantasy and reality are blurred.  Will you want to live in Mobius?

Story

Created by the sentient vocaloid program, μ (Mu), Mobius is a place for people to forget about their everyday problems and re-live a blissful high school life.  In a setting where fantasy and reality are blurred, the “Go Home Club”, who have awaken to the falsehoods of Mobius, attempt to escape this false paradise.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite familiar with the premise of The Caligula Effect, but I had watched the first couple episodes of the anime and completely forgot about it.  After picking up the game I decided to revisit the anime series.14.png

I played the game for about 5 hours before jumping into the anime series, which was a decent amount of time spent on the game.  In many instances, I usually say the game is better since there is a lot of time to build the story, however, I hate to admit that the anime captures the emotional impact of the game in a clearer and more concise way.

While playing, I found it difficult to balance my interest in the story with the variety of game play elements.  When presented with story line topics, the game fell flat.  The characters want to escape Mobius, but in game there’s an overall apathy about actually trying to escape.  The characters don’t quite come off quite as strong in the video game.

Gameplay

What makes the Caligula Effect: Overdose stand out is the unique combat system.  Although battles are a turn-based, you have the option to customize your battle.  You can pick from your character skills and attack with a single character up to three times.  What’s really cool is that the game will go into a prediction mode and you can watch how the actions and battle moves will play out before you commit to them.  In addition to seeing how moves will play out, you have the option to adjust the timing of your moves.  You can adjust the timing of a hit to be delayed or for the character to attack sooner; it’s like crafting your own battle.  You can do this for each character on your team and strategize your attacks based on the character skills.  Of course, predictions are not 100% accurate and sometimes will not indicate when the opponent will be defeated.  You have to pay close attention and take some risks when designing your battle. Overall, this was an element I really enjoyed since it takes basic “turn based” game play to a different level.08.png

The Caligula Effect: Overdose is your basic RPG game so you have the options to complete missions and side quests.  Accessing side quests is a bit unique since it’s based on your relationship with NPCs.  All the students walking around are the people that inhabit Mobius.  Based on your social connections and reputation you can talk to them and learn about their problems and struggles.  When you reach a certain level of friendship you’ll learn more about what is troubling them and will have to help them resolve their issues. To take it a step further, you can access a sub menu called “LINE” and communicate with the friends you have made by sending texts.  However, the prompts are repetitive and even if you’ve already asked the question the prompt will reappear.  Responses are all generic and you can get the gist of the character personality, but there are so many characters to chat with it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bored with this function of the game.06.png

Audio

μ (Mu) is the creator of Mobius so it’s fitting to have her songs performing in the background.  It’s her music, after all, that influences the characters and keeps them brainwashed.  You get a really fun J-pop track playing throughout the level.  While the songs are all fun and catchy, I didn’t feel inclined to stay in a particular area too long since the chorus is on permanent loop throughout the level.

Verdict

Pros: The battle system is a lot of fun and the game offers a variety of game play elements to delve into.17.png

Cons: The story doesn’t hit quite as hard during game play.  After a while the music can start to irk your nerves.

Overall score:

I’d give it a 5.  It isn’t a must-have, but might be something worth picking up on sale. You might have a better time catching the anime instead.Score

Have you played this game? What did you think? Are you a fan of the anime?

Let me know in the comments!